Caring for your Umbrella

Patio umbrellas (whether used with a table or free-standing) provide ample shade on sunny days. You can stay cool by the pool or comfortable during a barbecue with a variety of umbrella styles. While patio umbrellas are designed to be durable, withstanding ultraviolet rays and rain, their construction contains many mechanisms that should looked after. Fortunately, keeping your umbrella in like-new condition is easy. Here are some tips for cleaning and caring for your patio-shading umbrellas:


Wash the Frame

You won’t have to clean your patio umbrella frame often, but periodic and as-needed treatment will support a long product life. Whether you want to remove dust and debris or wipe off a mark, all you need is a clean, damp cloth. Rub down the frame thoroughly. This should take care of most dirt. However, if you have a more stubborn mark, start with a mixture of mild soap and water, and administer it with a gentle cloth. Once you’ve scrubbed off the mark, rinse with the damp cloth.

Avoid using toxic cleaners or harsh chemicals, as these products may damage or rust your umbrella frame finish.


Clean the fabric

From bird droppings to fallen leaves, your patio umbrella fabric can collect some unsavory debris. Washing those items off right away helps prevent stains, so act quickly. Start by checking to see if your umbrella fabric is detachable, which will make cleaning easier. Next, lay down a tarp or some blankets on your yard to protect your umbrella from touching the ground and place the canopy fabric on top. Spray the affected area with your garden hose, then scrub any marks using a gentle cloth, mild soap and warm water. Finally, rinse the area again using your hose. Often, you’ll notice the water beading on the fabric – this is the result of the fabric’s construction, which is designed to repel rainwater.

Let your umbrella air dry. Leave the umbrella open, and if possible, put it in a sunny spot to speed up the drying process.

Patio umbrella fabric is designed to resist fade caused by sunlight.


Remove stains

If stains do set into the fabric, you still have some options. To get rid of tough stains, Sunbrella® (which manufactures many umbrella fabrics) recommends using a combination of 1 cup of bleach and 1/4 cup of mild soap for every gallon of water. Work the cleaner into the stain and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Then, use a mild scrub brush to whisk the mark away. Again, let the umbrella air dry. Remember, this process is only for tough, set-in stains.

It’s important to always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific umbrella fabric.


Maintain the base

Your umbrella will stand upright thanks the support of a base. Here are some simple steps for maintaining a resin, water-filled umbrella base:

  • Empty it of standing water periodically
  • Always remove the water before winter arrives – otherwise it will freeze, expand and potentially crack the base
  • Use a garden hose to wash off debris
  • Mild soap and water can also be used to clean marks
  • Avoid standing on the base – it’s only meant to support the weight of the umbrella

For umbrella bases made from materials like cast iron or steel, scrub clean using a mixture of mild dishwasher detergent and warm water.


Wrap Things Up

Once everything is clean and dry you can close the umbrella. Just like furniture often comes with outdoor furniture covers, cantilever umbrellas sometimes have covers of their own. If your cantilever umbrella has a cover specifically fitted for it, then tightly secure it in the cover. If, for whatever reason, it does not have a cover, tightly wrap the umbrella in a large sheet of plastic such as a paint drop cloth. The plastic should be larger than the umbrella. Once the cover is secure, tape the sides to keep it in place. The plastic will help protect fabric from mold and mildew over the winter as well as keep the arms of the umbrella in place. Snagging even one section on an object could bend or break your patio umbrella.



Find a location that is dry through the winter months such as a secure garage, basement, or attic. Be sure to avoid areas where dampness and wet weather might creep in without your knowing it. You want to be sure that your umbrella is ready to cover your outdoor furniture and yourself come spring, so store laying down or standing up away from other objects that might bend, misshape, or cause damage.


With these straightforward maintenance tips, you’ll keep your patio umbrellas in great, shade-providing condition.